12/24/2011 01:20 EST | Updated 02/23/2012 05:12 EST

Holiday Shopping: Toronto Malls Busy, But Some Say Not As Bad Expected

TORONTO - Canadians braced for chaos and mayhem Saturday as they rushed to stores and malls to buy last-minute Christmas gifts.

People milled around downtown Toronto's largest mall toting shopping bags and packages of wrapping paper, many of them with their families in tow.

But some shoppers at the Eaton Centre said the crowd wasn't as large _ and the lineups weren't as long _ as they expected.

Shelley Burgoyne said she was prepared to fight her way through hordes of shoppers to cross the last three gifts off her list.

Instead, the whole experience was surprisingly relaxing, the Toronto resident said.

"If the mall is like this next year, I would do all of my shopping like this," she said.

It seemed to be much the same story in Vancouver as vendors and shoppers at a downtown shopping centre said the pace was hardly hectic.

Christina Lavallee, who sells flowers on the corner of Granville Street and Georgia Street, said sales were slow and she only had about five customers during her first two hours on the job Saturday.

"This year it has been really, really slow, she said." "Yesterday (Friday) was busy, but before that the week before, and week before, very slow."

Many shopping malls and stores opened Saturday to accommodate last-minute shoppers, but were closing early for the holiday. Most will stay closed on Christmas Day.

Canadians determined to keep their wallets open won't have to wait long.

A number of stores are rolling out their Boxing Day sales early online, some as soon as Christmas Eve.

Elliott Chun, a spokesman for Future Shop, said shopping online on Dec. 24 has become a holiday tradition for many of the company's customers.

"People are looking for things to do and what a great way to then spend maybe some of the gift money you might have received over the holiday on yourself," he said.